Anyone who has ever worked in the social services sector knows early intervention and prevention is the surest way of arresting identified areas of need.
They're often high and complex and past governments had a bad habit at Budget time of deferring additional funding and procrastinating, or waiting until things approached crisis point, before deciding funding would be made available.
"No money for additional support services" was the usual response from government.
"Make do with what you currently get" is an oldie, but the one that still gets me riled up is "Try working smarter". When I heard these excuses in the past I knew that social service providers and their work were being undervalued.
It's never been for the faint-hearted and I find it unbelievable what the sector provides with the money it gets. They have never had the opportunity to develop "a culture of extravagance".
As if they would. Every day they support people who are often worn down by the sheer struggle just to stay afloat.
When providers are fobbed off they know from experience things will get progressively worse for those in need and the government, taxpayer actually, will pay many more millions of dollars in the long term for the delay.
Sadly, in the meantime the deterioration in the quality of life of those most in need may be irreversible. Some have been unable to hang on. We know who they are. We find them in our poverty and suicide statistics.
Budget 2019 was a good, realistic budget. At long last a government is serious about putting money into areas that have needed attention for many years. Mental health services were big winners, with a package totally $1.9 billion.
This level of funding means the Government wants to fund for successful outcomes. They know that sound mental health underpins other areas of our lives.
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Without it people often struggle in relationships and family life, finding work, securing housing, with physical health and being connected in the community and with their surroundings. All can be impacted to some degree.
Money for hospital and school buildings total nearly $3b dollars, and DHBs will receive $170 million.
Whānau Ora can now plan to expand the depth of their services with the additional $81m coming their way. I'm just sorry the highlighted benefit increases won't start until next year.
Family violence intervention and targeted prison recidivism programme funding have at last received a significant funding increase. They have waited patiently in line for many years.
I heard one commentator say it was a Wellington BS Budget. It must be hard for some people to understand we now have a government unafraid to use the word "wellbeing" when talking about a Budget.
We are not used to it. I think it's because we somehow feel ashamed we let things get this bad. We blame the poor, the working poor, the homeless and those with bad mental health and poor physical health for their own misery.
For years we've heard "they've only got themselves to blame". This from so-called caring New Zealanders. I read recently that "a good society needs people to have empathy, a capacity to project oneself into another's situation".
What induces empathy? It could be knowing thousands of your fellow New Zealanders are struggling, usually in vain, to give a sense of meaning and stability, emotional and social to their lives. We would not wish to be there ourselves so surely would want better for those facing such an existence.
The Government has looked at long-term solutions to many of the current problems New Zealand faces. These didn't appear overnight and they won't disappear in just one year. But Budget 2019 is a respectable start.
It also highlighted opportunities in other areas for businesses to engage in. Perhaps not as much as the sector would like but 2020 will roll around quickly. This was not a BS Budget. Ask any social service provider. They know the difference.